Martha Stewart Living (February 2012)
Here's something we probably don't need to tell you: Martha Stewart Living has nice photography. Great photography, in fact.
But there's a feature in the current February issue that has such stunning, jaw-droppingly gorgeous photos, we wanted to cook something from it just so we could talk about the pictures.
Could this Orange-Scented Olive-Oil Cake with Orange Compote and Ganache possibly live up to its photo?
The feature we're talking about is called "A Zest for Chocolate," and it includes five recipes that combine citrus and chocolate. They all sound delicious, like the Warm Soft Chocolate Cake with Orange Crème Anglaise, or the Chocolate Roasted-Orange Tart.
But as we said, it's the photos that are truly mouthwatering. The lead photo, of Chocolate Fondue with Clementines, Candied Grapefruit Peel, and Glacèed Orange Slices, is a work of art. It's like a still-life by a Dutch master.
Here's a (bad) photo of the spread we snapped on a camera phone:
Seriously, though, you need to go out and buy a copy of the February MSL to see for yourself. The entire feature is really, truly beautiful. Suitable for framing.
The photo of this Olive Oil Cake is similarly artful.
How did the real thing stack up? It's very tasty! The olive oil cake is pretty much a basic pound cake with a subtle orange flavor. The chocolate is dark and decadent. And since it's literally just bittersweet chocolate and cream, the sauce is not actually sweet at all, making it an excellent complement to the honeyed blood oranges.
One note: We'd probably suggest adding a couple more oranges to the compote. We served this cake to seven people, and the servings of compote were pretty scant (and we still had about a third of the cake left).
All in all, it's a very good dessert. Is it stunning? Is it jaw-dropping? Maybe not. (In fact, if you're craving an orange-and-chocolate treat, we'd recommend the Orange-Scented Bittersweet Chocolate Cake with Candied Blood Orange Compote from Bon Appétit that we made a couple years ago. Good grief that was good!)
But even if this wasn't the best dessert we've ever made, we don't mind.
Look, if the only thing we cared about getting from food magazines was recipes, we'd all be reading text-only lists of ingredients and directions. Sometimes the best part of a food mag is the mouthwatering photo spread at which you can't stop staring. The gorgeous pictures that make you want to lick the page. And actually turning that photo into a finished product in your kitchen can be incredibly satisfying, even if the result isn't your all-time favorite dish.
So what are we saying? We've lost track. Here's the bottom line:
1. The photos in the February Martha Stewart Living are gorgeous.
2. You need to pick up a copy and see them for yourself.
3. This cake is very good.
4. We are now starving.
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 40 minutes
Makes one 5-by-9-inch loaf
Serves 8 to 10
Unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
3 or 4 blood oranges
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70 percent), finely chopped (1/3 cup)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 5-by-9-inch loaf pan. With a vegetable peeler, remove peel from half of 1 orange, leaving pith. With a paring knife, cut rind into enough matchsticks to yield 1 tablespoon. Finely grate enough rind of remaining oranges to yield 1 packed tablespoon of zest.
Working over a bowl, cut segments of 3 oranges free of membranes. Squeeze juice from membranes into a bowl (you should have 1/4 cup juice). Cut segments in half, and place in bowl with matchsticks of orange peel; set aside.
Combine sugar and zest in a bowl; using your fingers, rub together well. Add juice and buttermilk, and whisk to combine. Add eggs and oil, and whisk to combine. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl; add to buttermilk mixture, whisking until smooth.
Transfer batter to pan, and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn out cake onto rack, and let cool completely, about 2 hours. (Undecorated cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.)
Meanwhile, stir honey into bowl with orange segments.
Bring cream to a gentle simmer in a small saucepan. Pour over chocolate in a bowl, let stand for 5 minutes, and whisk until smooth. Drizzle ganache over cooled cake, and let set, about 1 hour. Serve with orange compote.